Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Catch Up

After going to our MOMs group at church yesterday and being reminded of how important it is to capture and record all the little milestones in your children's lives, I am going to challenge myself to make time at least once a week to blog.

Here's a catch up of what we've been up to
the last 2 months:

In September Luke and I went to Houston to visit my new niece, Barrett, and celebrate Parker's 4th Birthday!

It was so nice to spend time with just Luke, I had forgotten how important that one on one time is, so we are going to try to do it more often.

Uncle Andy took Luke, Parker, & Kellen to the park our first day there, and when they returned this is what
they looked like:

The kids at a blast at their local bounce house.

Being in Texas, it had to have a bull

Luke concentrating really hard on hitting the baseball

Parker's birthday was at the Stomping Grounds, which is an indoor playground for kids and coffee shop for parents...genius idea!

In early October we went to Indiana to visit Ryan's family.

The cousins were able to go to a local pumpkin patch.

Sitting on top of the hay mountain

All the kids were thoroughly entertained by
gathering the pumpkins,

loading them in a wagon

and transporting them to the picnic table

To end October, we went to our church's Trunk & Treat.

At the last minute I found some hand-me-down costumes in our basement for Luke & Aubrey, and Levi just happened to have a costume that went with their theme!

A Cowboy, cowgirl, and their trusty bull :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We're still here!

With 3 children under the age of four, I can't seem to find anytime to take pictures, much less download them to my computer, and come up with coherent thoughts to write a blog post to go with said pictures, so I'm stooping to stealing a friend's blog post about my children :)

Go here to find out about the latest craziness
that we've been up to.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cousin's Camp

Back at the beginning of July the kids and I attended the first annual Sparks' Cousin's Camp.

As I've discussed before, Ryan and many of his cousins have taken the task of procreation very seriously over the last 4 years.

To date, 14 babies have been born into the Sparks' family over a span of just 4 1/2 years.

These babies, toddlers, and preschoolers rarely get the chance to all be together, so Ryan's dad decided to plan a big vacation this summer for all the cousins
and their parents.

This grand vacation was deemed, Cousin's Camp.

Pigeon Forge, a very kid friendly place, was selected as our destination.

Since the whole point of this vacation was for all the cousins to get to play together, staying at a hotel wouldn't provide the constant camaraderie needed, so a 15 bedroom lodge was reserved for our party of 37.

Our Cousin's Camp Cabin

A few weeks before the vacation, Ryan and Uncle Andy had to back out due to work commitments, so
Aunt Holly and I were tasked with driving 5 kids
5 1/2 hours from Birmingham to Pigeon Forge.

Surprisingly enough the trip
was fairly quiet and uneventful.

We arrived around 11:30 pm with 5 very sleepy and disoriented children.

Needless to say the first night was pretty rough, by about 2 am, Luke, Aubrey, Levi, and I were all in bed together...thankfully it was a nice King size bed!

We were awoken the next morning to the smell of waffles, bacon, and coffee.

Each family was given a meal to prepare, so we saved on food cost and had warm, homemade breakfasts and dinners each day!

The campers hoped for four fun filled days of cousin bonding, and the trip did not disappoint.

The kiddie area of Dollywood was perfect for our group.

Luke, Aubrey, Parker, and Kellen on the bumble bee ride
Hillarie, Hadlie, and Paige riding the pigs

Parker and Luke fishing for prizes.

The award for the youngest daredevil of the group, goes to 15 month old, Paige. If you look very carefully at the picture you will see the top of her hat and the bottom of her shoes high in the air on this death defying ride.

Playing outside all day sure can build up a big appetite.

Waiting for our Varsity inspired hamburger and hot dog dinner prepared by the Atlanta cousins.
This camper was so worn out from the day's activities she couldn't stay awake long enough for dinner

While the kids loved Dollywood, Splash Country, and riding go carts, I think everyone's favorite activity was gathering around the fireplace after dinner and singing, enjoying puppet shows, and just watching the kids have a blast together!

Bigg and Mama (Ryan's parents) led the kids in several Bible songs. Bigg even learned how to play the guitar just for Cousin's Camp.
Aubrey doing the motions for Deep and Wide
Kellen had some original moves to go with the songs :)

When the puppets came out,
Aubrey was beside herself with excitement

Granny and Levi watching all the craziness

The last evening we set out to take a group photo.

Ryan's parents had tie dyed shirts made for all the campers, and ball caps that say "Grandma (or Grandpa) loves me best".

We started by putting all the cousins on a ledge, and they all sat pretty still and looked in the general direction of the camera.

Then some one had the brilliant idea of hiking up a big hill with 14 kids to get a picturesque shot in front of the mountains.

At least the mountain is pretty

Everyone loved the first annual Cousin's Camp so much that the week after we returned a cabin was already booked for next year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Aubrey's Birthday, Part 1

Aubrey turned 2 on June 19th, she had a bumble bee themed birthday party the weekend of her actual birthday while we were in Indiana visiting Ryan's family.

I forgot my camera on the trip (seems to be the trend these days), so all the party pictures are on my father-in-law's camera, maybe by the time her next birthday comes around I'll be able to post them :)

She also had a mini party at my parents' house last week while we were in Atlanta visiting our friends, the Carters, who were home from Germany for the month.

Party People:

Kerri & Levi
Mason & Luke
Nana & Aubrey

Aubrey's mint chocolate chip ice cream cake
As you can see, Aubrey is bursting with excitement over her birthday cake

Blowing out the candle
Opening her present from Nana & Papa, a water table
The water table was a huge hit!

It wasn't long before all the splashing required
removal of the clothes

Aubrey was having so much fun splashing, scooping & dumping the water she wanted to get in the water table

Turning Two Milestones:

A couple of months before her second birthday, Aubrey's vocabulary increased by leaps and bounds. She can say anything she wants to and makes 3-4 word sentences.

She loves to sing, some of her favorite songs are Jesus Loves Me (which she calls "Bible"), Jesus Loves the Little Children, This Little Light of Mine, and
the Calm & Cool Song (a Daddy original).

Aubrey is a huge help with her little brother,
bringing him diapers, wipes, bottles, toys,
or anything she thinks he needs.

She even feed Levi in the grocery cart
while we were at Publix last week :)

Aubrey and Luke are quickly becoming best friends,
they play together often, usually Aubrey doing
whatever Luke tells her to do.

For instance, this is what they did this morning
while I was uploading pictures & blogging:
I heard them say in passing
that they were going on a trip.
I saw them taking some books out of the den,
but had no idea of the magnitude of toy relocation
this "trip" required.
See why it's been a month since I last blogged?!?

The tantrums have also begun, it's always a very sad day when your sweet little baby hits the defiant,
I-want-my-way stage.

Making a mess, has become one of
Aubrey's favorite past times.

She can empty the diaper basket in 20 seconds flat.
And throw flashcards all over the kitchen floor in the time in takes me to change the baby's diaper.

Aubrey is very independent, wants to do everything on her own, if we try to help her with something she respond, "No! Aubrey do it!".

We love every bit of her fun, adventurous, messy, and independent personality!

Happy 2nd Birthday Aubrey Lynn!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Five years ago today, Ryan and I made a covenant before the Lord to love, honor, and cherish each other no matter what this life would bring our way.

As I was watching our wedding video today,
I was reminded of a hymn we chose to have played at the beginning of our ceremony,
"Great is Thy Faithfulness".

I started thinking, that describes exactly what God has done in our marriage over these last
five years, show His Faithfulness:

When we were unsure of exactly what it meant to "leave and cleave",
He was Faithful and patient to show us
what becoming one truly means.

When we lost our tempers and
got angry with each other,
He was Faithful to calm us down,
show us humility, and how to forgive.

When we had our first child 18 months into our marriage, and I had no clue how to be a mommy, He was Faithful to encourage me and
give me confidence through Ryan.

When we left Auburn, moved to Birmingham and Ryan had to start his business from scratch, there were many times we couldn't see where the next paycheck would come from, but He was Faithful and always provided exactly what we needed when we needed it.

When we desperately desired
a biblically sound church home in our new city,
He was Faithful to not only direct us
to this church, but provide for us
some strong Christian friends to walk beside us.

When our sweet babies start turning into toddlers who threw tantrums, had attitudes, and didn't always respond to our discipline the way we had hoped, He was and still is Faithful to remind us to be consistent, keep our cool, and be patient.

When we had our third baby in just over three years, and the demands of so many little ones just seemed too much to bear,
He was and still is Faithful to
carry our burdens and give us the strength
and grace to get through each new day
He has given us.

Although we make mistakes daily in how we relate to each other, He is Faithful to forgive us, show us how to communicate with each other, and how to grow in our relationship with
Christ and each other.

God was Faithful in our courtship, engagement, and wedding day, and is still Faithful
in keeping that spark alive,
five years and three children later.

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife;
and they shall become one flesh."
- Genesis 2:24